There are currently two major schools of thought in the salad camp. The first is the traditional, but does it really fill you up/ isn’t it really boring. The second is a newer faction. These people have transcended the humble leaves and carrot on a plate and evolved it into salad jars with layering, Buddha bowls with lineated quadrants, and name checking shit you’ve never even heard of. The salad has been gentrified. Continue reading “Easy office salad inspiration: healthy, tasty, colourful and NOT BORING”
I am not naturally flexible. Every millimetre of gains I’ve had to work for, usually sweaty and miserable. But the way the pole industry is going, and certainly for circus, flexibility is a must for more advanced moves. And so here I am. Continue reading “Flexibility: Gains is more than muscle”
Yesterday was International Day of Yoga! Yogis from all over the world bent and breathed in public places to celebrate this amazing activity.
I started yoga to improve flexibility for my pole fitness. As well as this, I’ve found improvements in core strength (when you’re wobbling about in a wide Warrior pose it’s surprisingly abs-strengthy) and I’ve also found it helps practise Mindfulness – shocker. My favourite move for this is tree pose, standing on one leg, perfectly still, arms above your head, it requires so much concentration you forget about what you’re having for tea or what you did at work today. It completely clears the head.
Becoming more aware of your body, or every toe and every little ligament and sinew puts you more in touch with you as a full body, and less of a head attached to a body. That’s a weird thing to think about but I read a study that said people who think in that way are happier. It brings more self awareness, more self love. The pictures above are from a long weekend in Snowdonia we just took to celebrate the hub finishing his PhD thesis. As well as these photos taken when out and about, I took a few moments to practise yogic breathing barefoot in the grass in our campsite in the early morning with noone around except for birds and bunnies. It was so peaceful.
When sport or fitness is your stress-buster, an injury that gets in the way of your routine can feel like the sky is falling down.
It’s inevitable that if you have a regular sport or activity, you’re going to hurt something at some point. Whether it’s repetitive strain or overuse, or an actual injury, enforced time out has you kicking yourself – why did/didn’t I do that, why didn’t I listen to my body. We fill up with frustration and anger and direct it inwardly. This makes the situation worse – you already feel stressed from losing your outlet for release, and suddenly there’s all this pent up anxiety to deal with. At this point it’s easy to comfort eat and start destroying all the results you’ve spent months working towards. Cue more anger and more eating.
Which brings me to today. A few weeks ago after finally getting my handspring (VICTORY!) I started getting pain in my elbow. I tried to manage it by working around it but it continued to get worse. Now I’m in a cycle of icing, ibuprofen gel and deep heat. I felt pretty crappy. I tried to just do some gentle dance and stretching but even when I found things I could still do, I felt too unmotivated to do them.
I waited a week for a doctor’s appointment after the pain started increasing despite resting it. The nurse’s advice? ‘Rest more’ – up to 6-8 weeks. She didn’t understand how hard that was to hear, nor did she ask any questions about how it started hurting, where it hurt, my training or so on. I mean, I get it, I wasn’t dying or anything, I don’t expect to be the NHS’ number 1 priority, but I was hoping for an explanation and any potential way to speed up recovery, even by a day.
I went to see a sports physio, who fit me in straight away. I showed him pictures and videos of what I’d been training, and he examined the joint and its movement from every angle. It turns out it was a ligament injury, which has now been surrounded by scar tissue leading to the soreness and stiffness that I feel even when resting it. In fact, keeping it immobile has probably made it worse. He treated me with some acupuncture to stimulate blood flow and gave me an intense sports massage all around the joint. For the rest of the day it felt like an awful bruise, but a day later it feels more agile and lighter, less painful already. He says I can even go back to pole next week, but taking it easy. I felt optimistic and relieved!
Injuries are the price we pay for passion, and fortunately most of the time they’re only minor even when they feel like the end of the world. Stepping back and giving yourself the time you need to heal can feel like you’ve lost part of yourself. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but especially in the pole community, being out of action for any period of time is widely understood to make you feel crappy. Maybe that’s our own fault when we lose perspective, or maybe it’s an inevitability when something becomes such a huge part of your life. I’m the first to admit that my whining about this is self indulgent, but I also know I’m not the only one who becomes overwhelmed at these little setbacks.
In 5 weeks time I’m supposed to be performing a pole routine and a silks routine at our summer showcase – at this point, both will be freestyled rather than choreographed, and I probably won’t be pulling out my best tricks. But at least it seems like I’ll actually be there, and that’s put me in a much better mood.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is made from soy beans, and is an alternative to tofu. Tofu is made from bean curd rather than the whole bean, so loses some of the fibres and nutrients from the soy beans, and is considered more processed. Tempeh on the other hand uses whole beans, contains about 50% more protein and more than 3x the fibre of tofu. It is considered ‘less processed’ as the soy beans go through less faffing to get to the end product. Some people apparently have trouble digesting tofu, but tempeh is supposed to be easier on the digestive system. So there you go.
I like having a wide range of dishes to turn to so I wanted to give tempeh a go. I used to struggle with tofu, but now have several go-to tofu meals that I love. Tempeh seems to be a lot less talked about and I think I know why:
It looks like a cross between a highly sweetcorny poo and the front of a pebble dashed house. I gallantly continued.
How to cook tempeh
I read several recipes and advice and a lot of them talk about boiling it. Apart from rice and pasta I never boil anything so I couldn’t be arsed with that. I then found a few ‘marinate and fry’ recipes so I decided to freestyle on that basis. My approach in the kitchen is alwaysalways that I know what I like better than the recipe writer, and I’m a constant substitutor if I don’t have the right ingredients in the house. In this case I mixed soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger powder and garlic powder in a bowl, sliced the tempeh pretty thinly, brushed the tempeh with the marinade and left it in the fridge for an hour. In retrospect, I’d probably add some chili or hot sauce next time to this mix.
I left it for an hour then heated up some seseame seed oil in a wok. Sesame seed oil has a hotter boiling point than things like olive oil so it’s great for when you want a high temperature. Also it tastes amazing, sort of toasty, nutty.
With this high-ish heat I only needed to do the slices for a couple of minutes each side before they turned a nice toasty colour. You might be wondering about the different shapes – I experimented with different ways of chopping the tempeh to see if it affected how well it stayed together – there was little difference, I’d stick with the slice like salami approach.
At the same time, I fried a leek in some coconut oil, then chucked in a tin of chickpeas, a generous amount of spinach and some pinenuts with a spoonful of Thai green curry paste in a saucepan. (Asda’s Thai curry pastes are vegan, but most other places and brands put fish sauce in so watch out). And here’s how it looked:
I served it with Thai sweet chili sauce.
Maybe 6/10 for tempeh and 8/10 overall. OK, so tempeh isn’t my fave. It’s quite dense, reminds me a lot of nut roast which I was never keen on specifically for that reason. Taste-wise, it tasted fine and its good to have different foods in your diet. I’d definitely make it spicier next time and try it again. To be honest, the leek and chickpea concoction was my fave part of the meal. Also a whole tempeh ‘sausage’ between two people is definitely too much! I would say that it’s good enough to give it another go but I can’t see it replacing tofu any time soon.
If you’ve got any of your own tempeh recommendations please let me know!
Love Kayley x
A few years ago an old friend suggested we go to a pole fitness class. I hated the gym, hated running, but was finding that my teenage metabolism was leaving me and putting on weight became easier and easier. So we went to the class, nervous as hell. Would we have to be sexy, what will the other people be like? Would there be judgement?
Honestly, the class wasn’t great. It was mixed level, and as a beginner, we were sort of just left doing the same boring moves again and again rather then be inspired or encouraged. Some of the other girls were lovely, others I was intimidated by. Anyway, when my friend couldn’t go, I didn’t go, and only going once every few weeks or so wasn’t fast enough to progress. I’d look at the advanced girls going upside down, and there was no thought in my brain that I’d ever be able to do that, it just didn’t seem like something I’d be good enough to do, and I had no encouragement to the contrary. Anyway, we gave up pretty easily.
Fast forward to January 2013, the year I was getting married. I said things like ‘I want to tone up’ and ‘I want to burn fat’ – both polite ways of saying ‘I want to be skinnier’. Still a gym hater, I looked for a new pole dancing class to try it again, this time on my own.
Oh the difference. One day in January I turned up at Polefire, nervous again and not knowing what to expect. At the time, classes were downstairs at Grand Central on Oxford Road, which meant you had to go behind the bar to get there, which was scary in itself! But the girls there were amazing – supportive of every little victory, helpful, funny and outspoken. I felt like I could achieve something one day, like I might become ‘ok’ at this. The founder of Polefire, Sarah Fenney, is now a hero of mine. She sees things in you you don’t see in yourself, makes you believe, makes you harder, better, faster, stronger!
The first time I climbed up the pole to the ceiling my eyes pricked with tears of pride! I’d be covered in bruises, sweaty and aching (the first morning after your pole class you’ll discover arm and ab muscle pain you never knew existed!) I was exhilerated, I was inspired. I stopped saying crap like ‘tone up’ (which doesn’t actually mean anything) and started saying ‘muscle definition’ and ‘build up strength’. The weight fell off, but more importantly, I started to be OK with body as it was (most of the time anyway, I’m only human).
As I progressed, I started doing more freestyle and dancing. It was an outlet for creativity, to forget your everyday worries and just create beautiful shapes, losing yourself to the music, experimenting with little variances on moves to make them unique to you. Then I started doing performances, and discovered a whole new level of adrenaline. I was hooked.
When I’m stressed at work ( or about anything else) I walk into that studio and it’s OK. There’s nothing like the adrenaline of a ‘drop’ to push worries out your mind, or the excitement of getting a new move to make you feel powerful and capable. When you’re hanging upside down by your ankles, trying to rest the pole on the right bit of your back without falling, the stress of work seems a million miles away.
I always suffered from insomnia, but now I sleep much better. I think about the food that goes in my body, about iron and protein. As I’ve become more confident about my body, my shorts have got shortened and my abs are out more and more.
I’ve taken up aerial arts (particularly silks) and have started working actively on my flexibility – posts for another day!
As luck would have it, a family trip to Vegas this year is coinciding with the World Pole expo and I’ll get to train with one of my idols, Marion Crampe.
Pole is incredible, it’s a crazy sisterhood of support, creativity and empowerment. I would encourage ANYONE whatever your age, shape or size to give it a try. I’m also on the Polefire performance team, and get to frequently show off at various Manchester venues. Feel free to watch my pole journey on Instagram.
And if you’re thinking about taking a class and have any questions, feel free to just ask 🙂
Much love, Kayley